Member Rara Avis
Nan, what does God have to do with a poetry web site? Or love? Or whether a toilet seat is left up or down? Poetry is about the lives we live, not just the words we put on paper. And whether a discussion is initiated by a new Member or someone who's been here a hundred years hardly seems pertinent. Is one less than the other?
I'm not at all surprised you have a problem with the subject material. I do, too, though I would hasten to point out the original topic was not about sex between an adult and a child. Seventeen is not an adult, not legally and certainly not emotionally. If I have any problem at all with the law, it would be that both children should be prosecuted for statutory rape. Neither has the emotional maturity to make decisions that will impact their lives for years and perhaps decades to follow. And before anyone takes issue with that statement, let me quickly add I would say the same thing about all people in their twenties and most in their thirties.
But while I'm uncomfortable with the topic, Nan, I'm not going to grasp at excuses to explain away my discomfort. Which I think is what you've done here. I know you are intelligent enough, and sensitive enough, to realize the motivation for your complaints runs deeper than irrelevance to poetry. And I suspect you are honest enough to admit that, sometimes, it's just plain hard to articulate the roots of our discomfort. Even for writers. We know something is dangerous, even if we can't explain why.
The bottom line is pretty simple, really. There MUST be laws to protect the young. Eighteen is an arbitrary age, and Ashley feels it is too high. It's based largely on physical maturity, as the average age when a human being stops growing, and I personally feel it is much too low. And it doesn't matter a twit what either of us believe when someone is standing in front of the judge. Like so many of our social conventions, it is a compromise. Like so many of our laws, it is a poor one. But the alternative would be far worse.
This is, frankly, not the first time the issue of teen sex has surfaced at Passions. We've discussed it at some length in the Moderator's forum, in private of course, trying to arrive at a suitable and safe stance. On the one hand, it's a very real issue, a part of the life we all write about every day. Ignoring it doesn't make it just go away. But on the other hand, it's also rife with dangers. If there is any way that Passions can be seen as advocating teen sex, everything we have fought to build here could be easily lost. We have struggled though a lot of tumultuous events over the past year, struggled to maintain this site as one with a family atmosphere. I would like to think the parents of any of our teenage poets could wander into our doors and feel comfortable with the standards we have collectively achieved. Dare we risk that?
Like Nan, I am uncomfortable with this subject. And I think a very large part of that discomfort comes from knowing I don't have any answers. And suspecting there are none. There is absolutely nothing I - or anyone else here - can say that will dissuade a teenager from making their own mistakes. That is ultimately the parent's job, and it's either accomplished in the first dozen years of life or not at all. But while there's little good that can come of this discussion, there is much harm that can result from it.
Ashley, I understand your confusion. And your frustration. Even your anger. But it is a subject that should be discussed with your family, your clergy, your school counselors. Please don't put us in a position where we can do little good and potentially so much harm.